What Do You Say?

December 3, 202

Like many others who strive to practice Christianity as described in the New Testament I am sometimes asked questions about belief and practice. People notice differences between New Testament Christianity and mainstream denominationalism or “popular Christianity”. When they notice they often ask why? What’s the deal with such and such. It may be weekly observance of the Lords Supper, or not fund raising, it may be baptism for the remission of sins, it may be acapella singing. The question is always the same: Why? Why do you weirdo’s at the church of Christ not have fund raising campaigns? Why don’t you have a piano? (Can’t you afford it?). My answers like the questions are always the same. Because we love and trust God. This way of answering is helpful for two reasons. First it doesn’t usually upset anyone, and second it allows for further conversation. I can usually go on to explain that love and trust means that we worship, live, believe, and teach according to the New Testament. 

     The wise man said a gentle answer turns away wrath (Prov 15:1) and wise that is. By responding with love and respect for God first and the questioner second doors can be opened rather than closed. The truth can be shared rather than told. Friendship and respect can be fostered rather than frustrated.

     Anyone who dares to be different can expect questions, as much as we claim to be an enlightened, tolerant, open minded, reasonable people it’s just not true. If you do something different than what the majority is doing they are not going to like it. Your differences will be appreciated even less if you have sound reasoning behind them. Giving some thought to how you’re going to answer when people ask questions is key.

     So the first reason to respond to people’s questions about our differences by pointing to our love and trust for God is it doesn’t usually upset anyone. The second reason is equally important. It gives an opportunity for further discussion. When someone says “why don’t you have a piano” and you respond “because we love and trust God” it’s almost inevitable that the next question will be “what do you mean by that”. Now I am able to teach, I can explain that the only musical worship found in or authorized by the New Testament is singing. I can explain that worship is meant to glorify God. I can explain that Jesus said “If you love me you’ll obey my commandments”.

     So when I am asked about different practices and beliefs that make churches of Christ stand out a little from what’s expected I always answer with “because I love and trust God”. Religious practice is the easy part though. There is a deeper more difficult question. What about when we’re not at church? Do we look different in our relationships, finances, marriages, workplace than the people around us? When asked about your Monday through Saturday practices could you still say I do that because I love and trust God? Religious tenants and practices are basic the bigger question is are we applying the above principle to our every day?

~ Kevin Cleary